Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oberpfalz, Kreis Waldmünchen 27.12.99: Duck and Dumplings and Dreams of Home

Preparing to drive back to Braunschweig this morning. Past several days snowy and rainy, with ice on Christmas day, when Steve, Hermann, and I drove to Regensburg to spend several hours with his son Reinhard. A walk around the Altstadt in the ice and snow, the cobblestones making the walk dangerous, since they accumulate glaze ice (Glateis) quickly.

Glateis: glaze ice—do the English inherit the term from the Germans, or vice versa? In Germany, I seem to keep meeting some Urquelle of my own imagination. Though German seems more specific in the way it names concrete reality—a language made for ordering and managing the world?

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A German housewife can work busily all morning in the kitchen with a duck, potatoes, salad ingredients, banging pots and pans with great intensity, and when she’s finished, will have produced merely a duck, some potatoes, and a salad. It’s a culture that seems curiously tone-deaf when it comes to the possibilities of food. The duck is considered good if it’s well-roasted, not well-seasoned. And the potatoes vary only to the extent that they take different forms, from parslied, fried, to Knödels. None of these presentations takes away their essential potatoness.

We ate Ente and Knödels on Christmas day at the Alte Linde beside the Donau and the Steinerbrücke. We ate Ente and Knödels at the Ederers on Stephen’s day. For supper on Stephen’s day, we had Ente and Knödels at the S.’s.

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Leave-taking: Marcel Proust was right, Partir, c’est mourir un peu. The birds slowly circling the snowy fields remind me of the ducks over the rice stubble as we drove back and forth to Arkansas in that awful winter my mother came back from Sri Lanka.

Somehow, the past days, the experience of being in Germany this winter melds with the experience of taking care of (taking leave of?) my mother. I haven’t yet fully believed that all this happened, her decline, the move back to Arkansas, the nursing home. Like so much in my life, this sequence of events has no name. It’s just there, in memory and experience, beyond any language I’ve learned to speak.

I know that this experience is melded with being in Germany because of my dreams. Ever since the day or so before Christmas, I’ve had recurring dreams of home, unsettling ones. Home follows us like the whipped cur wherever we go.

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